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Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Wong Kar Wai

The Hong Kong film director Wong Kar Wai moves me in ways beyond expression. Sometimes when I find a director I like I steadily work through every film they have ever made, looting Fopp after long essay days or finding cheap copies on Amazon and waiting for their arrival. This is the way I am headed with Wong Kar Wai, a pattern of addiction and obsession. I can't stop thinking about the way Chan Marshall says the word 'sentimental' in My Blueberry Nights; the figure of Li-Zhen (In the Mood for Love) endlessly walking up and down stairs to fetch noodles for solitary dinners haunts me; the slow lyrical shot that sinks in to the Iguazu falls in Happy Together repeats in every moment of melancholia. Wong Kar Wai's films have got in to my soul.

I recently bought Happy Together, the story of two lovers travelling together in South America. Things fall apart, they do not get to the fabled Iguazu falls, the waterfall from their wonderfully tacky tourist lamp. Ho leaves for Buenos Aires and Lai finds work in a tango bar. The film shifts from its romantic black and white to the harsh colours of restaurant kitchens and cheap flats. The back cover describes it as a heady cocktail of sound and vision, the rhythms of Buenos Aires are combined with Frank Zappa's jazz, it is just all so astounding and it genuinely made me weep.

In The Mood for Love is undoubtedly his masterpiece; even my mother likes it and it is difficult to convince her to watch foreign films. Everything from Li-Zhen's elegant 60's dresses to the soundtrack (a combination of Nat King Cole, cantonese ballads and compositions) is perfectly poised and stunningly portrayed.

Chungking Express has so much heart I can forgive its confusing parallel narratives; Faye Wong falls in love with the heartbroken Tony Leung and visits his flat while he is out to clean, replace dead gold fish and listen to her sunny pop music. Then there is Takeshi Kaneshiro who buys out of date pineapple tins and eats them in the hope of solacing his love-lorn self. Wong Kar Wai dazzles me with light and colour and then slows movement as character and viewer fuse. If you have seen one of his films (or perhaps if you understand the technicalities of film) you will know what I mean. He has a style which is distinctive and lusciously beautiful. I could listen to soundtracks and watch the play of colours across my screen all day, it would soothe me.

The final thing you should know, is that I have a huge crush on Tony Leung...


  1. One of my favorite, I love his estheticism and the soundtracks chosen are made part of his poetic world ! Specially when I remember Siboney, song of Connie Francis in 2046 movie, it express the extreme sensuality atmosphere that is so typical of him.

  2. What a nice plot! I like the fact that two lovers decide to begin a journey to a country that is considered exotic by many. It kind of resembles my story because I did the same with my boyfriend a few years ago. We got some furnished apartments in buenos aires and started to get to know this romantic city. The difference is that we did not break up, in fact, we got married there!!